Automotive engine downsizing has placed an increased focus on the ability of the turbocharger to provide adequate boost levels across the full engine operating rage. To achieve the desired levels of turbocharger performance the turbine must be capable of operating effectively at the intended design point and also at off-design conditions. Mixed flow turbines (MFTs) provide a potential method to improve performance at off-design conditions and during transient engine operation. A unique feature of a MFT is the spanwise variation of incidence angle at the rotor leading edge. This results in additional flow separation from the blade suction surface near the hub under a wide range of operating conditions. The flow separation generates additional loss and has a detrimental impact on turbine performance.
A novel design of turbine volute similar to a conventional twin-entry turbine volute was examined. The novel turbine volutes were designed to produce a spanwise variation in flow conditions at the rotor inlet. The primary objective was to reduce the incidence angle and increase the mass flow rate at the hub side of the passage relative to the shroud side, as it has previously been identified that this can be beneficial for MFT performance. A number of different volute geometries were examined by numerical analysis to determine the impact of key parameters on turbine performance. The results indicated that generating a suitable spanwise flow distribution could produce a moderate improvement in turbine efficiency at off-design operating conditions. The novel volute design also provided a means of achieving a degree of variable geometry operation to further improve off-design performance. Turbine performance was examined under the variable geometry operation and an improvement in turbine power output at low speed, off-design conditions was achieved. This was analogous to operating with a conventional pivoting vane variable geometry system and had the potential to benefit performance during transient engine operation.